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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary
Catherine Snow, and John Bransford, especially their discussions of the published findings of the National Research Council (NRC) committees that each chaired (National Research Council, 1998a, 1998b, 1999a, 1999b, 2000a, 2001b). The chapter also draws on the presentation of child development researcher Craig Ramey.
Specifically, the chapter presents research findings on human learning from the perspective of cognitive science; early childhood development and the characteristics of social environments that effectively promote it; and the teaching and learning of early reading skills. First presented are principles of learning as discussed by John Bransford. These general principles are derived from research in cognitive science and summarized in How People Learn (National Research Council, 1998a). These general principles of learning are applicable across the life span and inform material presented later in the chapter on early childhood development and education and on how children learn to read. The chapter concludes with a discussion of a theoretical model of school learning and instructional capacity developed by David Cohen et al. (2001) and presented by Cohen in a preconference workshop. This model provides a helpful conceptual and theoretical framework for uniting the cognitive and developmental perspectives on learning presented in this chapter with the social and cultural perspectives that are the focus of Chapter 4.
This review of research on learning and education, including its cognitive and social dimensions, necessarily is highly selective. Research discussed by conference presenters and reported here highlights findings on the above-mentioned topics of particular relevance to the conference themes. The reports of the NRC committees that Bransford, Bowman, and Snow chaired or cochaired are themselves selective summaries of major findings on learning, the development of young children, and early reading about which there is broad scientific consensus. For a fuller discussion of these topics, the reader is directed to the published committee reports and to other references cited in those reports and in this volume.
COGNITION AND LEARNING
The Science of Learning
According to John Bransford, learning research can be an important tool for educators who want to help many more students develop the kinds of advanced intellectual skills that W.E.B. DuBois long believed were the province of only “the talented tenth.” Although research from the cognitive sciences on learning is not the sole answer for closing the achievement gap and bringing all students to high academic standards, it can be considered a good starting point.